On Friday Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the initiative to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, as published by Atalayar, with a view to fostering peace in the Middle East by normalising links between the Arab world and the Israeli state and finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Bahrain's foreign minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, stated in an official communiqué that the agreement to normalise relations with Israel announced by the US president, Donald Trump, will lead to the Palestinians achieving their "legitimate rights" and will help bring about a lasting peace in the Middle East.
"The peace agreement between the kingdom of Bahrain and Israel achieves the objectives of the Arab peace initiative", which entails the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, said Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, who also indicated that the pact "will help to strengthen security and stability in the region, ensuring that the Palestinian people obtain their legitimate rights and that permanent peace is achieved".
For its part, the UAE Foreign Ministry praised the decision of the Kingdom of Bahrain and expressed its "hope that this step will have a positive impact on the climate of peace and regional and international cooperation".
The Bahraini foreign minister will be responsible for signing the treaty at the White House with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the 15th, as reported by the US administration. Precisely that day was announced as the day on which Donald Trump will host the solemn signing of the agreement on the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, which was sealed a few weeks ago. Benjamin Netanyahu will sign, on the one hand, the understanding with the Emirates, which will be represented by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; and, on the other, with Bahrain, represented by the aforementioned Al-Zayani.
This Friday, the American president announced with effusion the understanding between Bahrain and Israel on the social network Twitter: "Another HISTORICAL achievement today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain have agreed on a Peace Accord - the second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days!
For its part, the Emirates, which on 13 August became the first Gulf country to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, positively highlighted the step taken by Bahrain in the same direction. The two countries thus join the only two in the Arab sphere that had links with the Israeli state: Egypt and Jordan.
In a joint statement issued by Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump following telephone contacts between the three leaders, the normalisation of diplomatic ties between the Gulf country and the Hebrew state was made public in August. Following this pact, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, undertook a tour of various Arab countries to gather support for Israel's proposal of international acceptance, including some such as Bahrain and Sudan.
These latest moves are a genuine milestone as they open up a new avenue for improving the political and diplomatic situation in the Middle East and make the Emirates and Bahrain the third and fourth Arab countries, respectively, to establish political relations with the Israeli nation, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. The Egyptian country was the first in the Arab environment to seal peace with Israel in 1979, under the auspices of the USA, after having clashed with the neighbouring country in several wars in previous decades.
Indeed, Egypt's current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, was the first president to congratulate Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in a phone call on the diplomatic initiative. According to an official statement, al-Sisi was delighted with "this historic step, which will open up the prospects for achieving peace and stability in the Middle East, as well as a permanent settlement for the Palestinian cause".
The declaration sealed in August by the Emirates, Israel and the United States hoped that "this historic achievement will help advance peace in the Middle East". The most striking point of the agreement is that it envisages Israel's commitment to halt the incorporation of Palestinian territories from the West Bank. The Arab world has been criticising Israel's annexation of land considered to be Palestinian in view of the settlement of Jewish settlers; and the understanding between the UAE and Israel was a major step forward in this respect thanks to Israel's interruption of this strategy. Although Benjamin Netanyahu subsequently showed himself to be somewhat ambiguous in this respect with respect to halting the annexation of West Bank territories.
It should be stressed that the latest plan proposed by the Trump Administration to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians (the so-called Century Agreement) recognised Israel's legitimacy with respect to its intention to take over areas of the West Bank, something that was unanimously denounced by the Arab community; this despite the fact that the proposal envisaged the idea of establishing a Palestinian state, albeit very limited in its operability and reduced to a capital on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem. The Palestinians rejected this offer, despite the large injection of money promised by the United States to help set up the new Palestinian state entity.
On Saturday, the Turkish government condemned the agreement between Bahrain and Israel to establish diplomatic relations, considering this step as a "blow" to the Palestinian cause. "We are concerned and strongly condemn Bahrain's commitment to establish diplomatic relations with Israel", the Ottoman Foreign Ministry stressed in a statement published on its official website. The note accuses Bahrain of accompanying the United Arab Emirates in the normalisation of relations with Israel in contradiction to its commitments in the Arab Peace Initiative and the Islamic Cooperation Organisation.
In this line, the Iranian foreign ministry also described this Saturday the agreement between Israel and Bahrain as "shameful" and warned the latter country that it is now "complicit in the crimes" against the Palestinians and the Muslim world. Iran called the decision taken by the Bahraini kingdom "shameful" and stressed that it will remain "in the historical memory of the Palestinian people".
The Islamic Republic of Iran is concerned because it has complicated relations with its Arab neighbours, who accuse the regime of the ayatollahs of threatening security in the Middle East and the world with their belligerent attitude in the waters of the Gulf and against the great rival Saudi Arabia (a great representative of the Sunni branch of Islam, as opposed to the Shiite one sponsored by the Iranian nation); All of this, above all, is the result of the political and economic sanctions imposed by the United States on the Persian state for its failure to comply with the nuclear pact signed in 2015 limiting Iran's atomic programme, particularly in the field of weapons.
From the Palestinian environment, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) also denounced the peace agreement between Israel and Bahrain, which it described as a "betrayal of the Palestinian cause" and "an extremely dangerous measure".